The 10th annual Ashley High School spring break baseball tournament sponsored by Coastal Athletics got underway late Tuesday morning as all four of the New Hanover County ballclubs returned to the field for three days of action.
Trailing by one in the opener, New Hanover rallied for two runs on no hits and one error in the bottom of the fifth and added one more in the sixth to pick up a 6-4 win over Southern Lee.
Caleb Bishop labored his way through 5.1 innings for the Wildcats to get the victory, while Trey Croom recorded the final five outs of the game to pick up the save. Bishop allowed four runs on five hits, with five strikeouts and two walks. Croom wiggled his way out a jam in the sixth with runners on the corners and just one out when the senior came on in relief to get a pop out and soft line out.
“There’s probably 100 ways to view a tournament like this,” said New Hanover Coach Richard Foy. “I’ve probably tried 99 of them and what I decided a few years back was just to try to win today. And then whatever happens tomorrow happens. We’re going to play today with whatever bullets we got and then wake up tomorrow morning and see what’s left.”
Mt. Olive commit Cory Everett sparked the New Hanover lineup as the senior leadoff hitter went 2-for-2 with a double, two walks, two runs and two RBIs.
With New Hanover leading by one in the sixth, a pair of bunt base hits by Lambert Long and Burke Estes set the stage for the top of the order as Everett delivered a run-scoring single to bring in an insurance run.
The center-fielder led off with an extra-base hit to left on the first pitch of his at-bat in the bottom of the first, moved to third on a groundout by Ward Coleman and crossed the plate on a wild-pitch to give New Hanover a 1-0 lead.
“I’ve been seeing the ball good all year and just needed to work on some things with Coach Foy as far as mechanics and I went out there and swung it good today and try to keep that going,” Everett said.
A slick play by Long got the Wildcats out of the second with a backhand stab in the six-hole to strand a Cavaliers’ base runner in scoring position.
But Southern Lee tied it up in the top of the third with a two-out double to left-center by Maxx Taylor, scoring pinch runner Noah Terhune. Taylor reached base four times in the game with two hits.
Coleman helped his pitcher prior to the RBI double when the Davidson commit made a diving stop at third base to catch Isiah Lassiter in a rundown between second and third.
“We definitely made some plays early in the game that really kind of kept us in it,” said Foy. “At the time it’s a close game when Ward made his play and we really just had that one inning where we gave them an extra out and they took advantage.”
New Hanover answered in the bottom of the frame as Everett reached base with a one-out walk, advanced to second on a throwing error and moved up 90 feet on a fielders’ choice off the bat of Coleman. Croom brought home his classmate for a 2-1 lead on a sacrifice fly to center.
The Wildcats made it a two-run cushion in the fourth after back-to-back hits by Fulton Hill and Garett Walston to open the inning. Max Hildreth advanced the runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt and Everett worked a two-out walk to force in a run with the bases load.
Southern Lee rallied for three runs on one hit, two walks, one hit by pitch and one Wildcat error in the top of the fifth to take a 4-3 advantage, but New Hanover responded for the comeback result.
“We always seem to be able to find that rally when we need it,” said Everett. “We end up getting that collective win and hopefully we can get that going this year. The experience helps with these types of situations, playing together for a long time also goes a long way when certain things come up through the course of a game.”
The Wildcats improved to 9-2 overall and face the winner of Laney/Mooresville at 4:30 p.m.Wednesday. Southern Lee faces the loser of Laney/Mooresville at 10:30 a.m.
Box score R H E
Lee 001 030 0 4 6 3
NHHS 101 121 X 6 7 1
WP: Caleb Bishop LP: Maxx Taylor